Did you know that what you put on your body affects your psychological processes?

Did you know that you can add 10-15% to your bottom line simply by shifting your professional presence?

If you answered no to these question (or yes, but want to know more), you’re in the right place. This is a three-part series of blogs authored for us by Katherine Lazaruk, founder and principal consultant with ICU Consulting Inc. She and our CEO, Monique Steensma, met as volunteers with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s Women’s Leadership Circle Advisory Committee, and after learning a bit more about her, Monique invited to her to do a piece here for us since professional branding is something with which many of us struggle. For more info, you can click here for her bio and learn about her training, designations and practice.

In this series, you’ll learn the four pillars of professional brand, the top strategic applications for leveraging it and five tips for creating a strong impression online and off. This is of course a high-level overview, as we don’t necessarily have space for a deep dive, but we wanted to give you a good place to start if you’re thinking of growing your professional brand.

Once you’ve read through the posts, please do comment – if we get a strong response, we’ll consider adding a webinar or other possible educational options for you in this area. Thanks for being here at the Mediate BC Blog. We hope you enjoy the series.

First Things First

If you’re reading this, you probably want to get more clients in your existing market, get into new markets, or get on the list at Mediate BC to get more work there. To do that, it’s important to make a good first and lasting impression. You might think brand is all about how others view you and, to a certain extent, that’s true, but it’s hard to control. Let’s start instead with something that’s all up to us.

Ultimately, we’d like to leverage our personal brand to shape the way people see us so we can create more interest, impact and influence. What most people miss when they start this process is that successful personal branding is about getting honest with who you are and sharing that with the world, instead of putting out an impression that isn’t true.

The fact is, whenever we’re considering our brand, we’re always operating with incomplete information. We can never really experience ourselves the way others experience us. We only know what’s inside us – who we are, what we can do and what we believe. Once we get clear on that, we can strategically use correctly aligned visual, verbal and behavioural cues to help people know, like and trust us faster and significantly improve the success of our communication.

Branding Pillar One:
You Are the Center of Your Universe

Most of our lives we’re bombarded with messages that we need to think of others before ourselves. In service industry professionals, this message may have a very strong hold because of the intense desire to help. It’s going to feel a little weird to spend time thinking of yourself, but it’s the only place to start.

Your personal brand is comprised of a few different things, including your physicality, your personality and your lifestyle, all of which can be expressed visually. Three quarters or more of your impression is based on your visual presentation, so as much as you hate the idea of not being judged, like a book, by your cover, I’m sorry to tell you it’s wired in our neurology, so you might as well work it to your advantage.

Make friends with your container. It’s the only one you’ve got and it’s my personal belief that it’s the perfect container to do whatever you’re meant to do on the planet. The sooner you do this, the easier your life will roll. This pillar is all about you.

Here’s what to consider for developing a strong personal brand:

  • What do you look like? In terms of clothing, what works well for your body shape and colouring? Matching what you wear to your physical self creates visual harmony.
  • Who are you as a person? Do you love quirky things, do you have cool hobbies, are you a very serious person? Matching what you wear to your personality lets people know a bit about you before you say a word.
  • What’s your lifestyle like? Your personal brand is shaped by what you do. For example, if you’re a cyclist who loves to bike everywhere, your functional requirements will be different than someone who drives to work.

Your professional brand should be a natural extension of your personal brand. If you’re a very different person professionally and personally, you’re lying to yourself somewhere and it shows.

You can absolutely choose what to show and to whom, but everything you wear, do and say should add up. People sheer off, often unconsciously, when things don’t add up, so help them understand you by making sure that you’re paying attention to the details. I often liken it to imagining yourself as a sound system – you can turn the volume up or down, but it’s still the same piece of equipment. You get to decide what kind of sound system you are.

Wondering how to extend your personal brand into your professional life? Stay tuned for Part Two.


Katherine LazarukKatherine Lazaruk, AICI, CIC is an image and professional branding consultant in Vancouver. In addition to being the force behind ICU Image Consulting, she is a sessional instructor in the Image Consulting Program for Langara College and serves as Secretary for the Canada Chapter Board of AICI.